Winning with the team

The team is the most important thing, without a good team, you won’t be producing anything.  So how can you tell, as a PO, if the team is going well or not?

Good

  1. Communication – Stand-ups are open, communicative, and actionable. The team talks openly without prodding, are there at the right time, and engaged with “I’ll help do that” or “I will be done with that task by lunch”
  2. Alive – As the team is working, it’s somewhat noisy and lively.  They turn around and ask questions, discuss at whiteboards and pull you in for clarification on something
  3. Responsibility – You don’t have to remind them to update their tasks, their status or anything else, they know they need to do it and they do.  You are not their manager tasking them with items.
  4. Subscribed – The team members are actually worried or concerned about a feature or story.  They are bought into the notion that this work is important for somebody.
  5. Work is Done – Stories are getting finished early in the sprint and they are asking you to look at them.  The sooner something is finished, the faster you can build confidence in them that they are doing the right thing.
  6. Improvement – They are suggesting ways to improve.  They are invested in the success and suggest technology choices, better ways to deploy, or new ideas to solve the problem than just taking what is provided.
  7. Questions and Clarifications – The are active in grooming sessions.  If they ask questions, or need clarification, for something you are presenting then they are engaged and understand what the item is.
  8. Back and Forth – Everybody talks. In the different meetings, calls, and other team settings, there is a good balance of contribution from all members. No one person is dominating the conversation or shrinking from it.
  9. Agile Principles – They understand the principles in the agile manifesto and embrace them.  They refer or reference them as they are trying to decide how to do something. They plan and develop with the ideas of iteration and incremental releases in mind.
  10. Yes and – They deal with change in a positive manner.

 

Bad

  1. Me / Myself / and I – They are quietly working through their day, rarely working on things together and only concentrating on their tasks.
  2. Bigger is better – They cannot break down stories into small deliverable tasks of less than 6 hours.  They need to have a complete architecture picture figured out before they move forward
  3. I’m done – Focus is on the work they signed up for instead of the overall story or spring goal.  Once they are done with their work, they are reluctant to pick up anything else.
  4. Timing – Late for agile ceremonies and not concerned about how it affects the others.
  5. Quality play – Not worried about the defects, quality, or experience of a feature.  “That can be cleaned up later”.
  6. What do I need to do – Keep to themselves in meetings, demos, and stand ups. Just there for the tasks and can’t wait to leave.
  7. Old School – Resist the agile principles at most opportunities and would rather work how they are most comfortable.
  8. I need help – They are struggling with a technical piece, they don’t know how to implement something or need some significant help.
  9. Have an idea – If they keep deferring to the technical managers for something, then they are fearful or not focused on the team.
  10. “That’s not my job”.

The team will make or break your project.  This part has to be done right and the right people have to be on the bus. Once you get a good team going, they really can be hard to stop.  Don’t be afraid to tell them things they need to know or would be interested to hear ( road-map, direction, feedback ). The more information they have to do their job, the better they will be at it.

PO’s help or hinder their progress by having good stories ready for them at appropriate times, are available to answer questions, and accept the work.

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About

I like to create things, work with interesting people, and do all things agile. I have a testing background and really want to make great products that solve problems.

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